Saturday, July 7, 2012

7 Reasons Why Exceptional Leaders Are Like Smart Phones!

If you've ever had to look for a new cell phone in the last little while then you could probably attest to the fact that there's no shortage of choices, features and options at our disposal.  Before you even determine what you're looking for, you've got to decide if you're in the market for a conventional cell phone or go the smart phone route.

Within each of those options, there's a bevy of styles and colours for you to choose from.  At the end of day, both phones perform the same basic function of making and receiving calls, however the additional options the smart phone offers makes it much more attractive and is considered the better of the two.  (This of course depends on who you speak with and what preferences they value.)

Smart phones offers a multitude of features and uses that go beyond just talking to people.  The ability to access the internet through any available wi-fi signal and download applications (or apps) broaden your horizon and make the experience of owning a smart phone much more practical.  For example,  you can use UrbanSpoon to help you decide what restaurant to go to, Tripit Travel Organizer to look after your travel plans or download WeatherBug to stay up on the latest weather forecasts plus so much more.

Owning a smart phone is the equivalent of having a mini computer in your back pocket.

So here's where the leadership comparison comes in.

As I see it, anyone can pretty much step into the role of leader and "do the job".  They might even able to produce results and even get others to follow them too.  That to me is a pretty basic function and is the equivalent to dialing out and making a telephone call.

An exceptional leader is much more like a smart phone.  They have a positive impact on the people around them and offer lots of options to make things easier to get the job done - they go beyond just making a simple call.  Their emphasis as a leader is more on "how" part of what they do instead of the "what" part.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Here are seven things exceptional leaders do to make themselves more like smart phones:

Communicate Instead of Direct
We too often forget that communication is a two sided street and listening is a big part of what makes the whole thing work. Exceptional leaders don't make a living barking directions or telling people what to do, they obtain information and understanding by listening and learning from the people around them.  Communication shouldn't be viewed as an extra task, it should be considered to be a necessary function.

Collaborate Instead of Control
Collaboration can best be described as a group of people coming together to achieve something collectively that they couldn't do individually.  Exceptional leaders recognize that the key to effective team work is giving people an opportunity to contribute their unique skills for the greater good of the team.

Proactive Instead of Reactive
The exceptional leader is always thinking three steps ahead. Working to master his/her own environment with the goal of avoiding problems before they arise. A reactive approach is dealing with fires as they happen while a proactive approach prevents them from occurring. 

Inspires Confidence Instead of Being Unsure
It was the 6th president of the United States, John Quincy Adams who once said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." The starting point in being able to do this is understanding that it's impossible to inspire others to do anything if you're not confident yourself. To put it bluntly, if you're not doing anything that inspires those around, then you're not doing your job as a leader. 

Open Minded Instead of Opinionated
It's not outside of the realm of possibility for one to be open minded and opinionated at the exact same time.  People who open-minded are willing to listen to and consider the another person's point of view but still can be very opinionated on certain matters.  The key is that there has to be a willingness to let go of their own bias opinions and viewpoints.  Otherwise opinionated leaders risk not progressing themselves or their people. 

Empowers Instead of Delegates  
Empowering others requires much more effort, energy and time for exceptional leaders however, the end result in the long run leads to a more effective and productive group of followers that feel trusted.  By empowering their people, exceptional leaders are displaying both faith and confidence while constant delegation sends a clear message that they may not exist. 

Inclusive Instead of Egocentric
Being an exceptional leader solely can't be about yourself and your hopes, wishes and desires.  Including others in the decision making process where at all possible helps to strengthen the relationship and build cohesion with those around you.  When its all said and done, people want to know that they're thoughts and feelings were taken into consideration and not left out of the equation whether purposely or not.


The Main Po!nt
It's not impossible to lead people by taking the old traditional approach of leadership of direct and command and still get results however, the exceptional leaders who stand out are the ones that offer more, give more and continually ask of themselves, do I want to make a difference or am I content with just making a call?

See you on the court!

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